By Daniel Buckwalter

As we descend into another winter of short days and chilly nights, microphilharmonic has just the tonic — for one more night, at least — in the event you need a pick-me-up: English Baroque music.

The elegance and sweetness of the music will be on full display tonight — the last performance of a two-concert run — at The Shedd with Henry Purcell & The English Baroque. It’s microphilharmonic’s annual tribute to Baroque music played with period instruments, and it is always one of my favorite concerts of the year. This year’s performance, which opened Nov. 5 at Jaqua Concert Hall, does not disappoint.

Led by Alice Blankenship, microphilharmonic’s artistic director and violinist for this concert, the seven-member ensemble plays with care the lush and serene compositions of Anthony Holborne, John Dowland, William Lawes and Thomas Baltzar as well as two scores from Purcell: Ten Sonatas in Four Parts and Suite No. 1 from The Fairy Queen.

Listening to Baroque music live with period instruments is an acquired taste. You have to be patient as the musicians spend time between pieces tuning these delicate hand-made instruments. As Blankenship noted to the good-size audience on Sunday, these instruments have to be tuned “almost every 50 seconds.” The audience chuckled; I’m not sure she was kidding.

Yet after the instruments are properly tuned, the rewards for the audience are great. It is enriching to hear the sounds of the bass gamba played by Colin Shipman (which looks like a cello except it has six or seven strings to the cello’s four strings and has frets like a guitar that make it easier to play chords) and the lute played by David Rogers.

Along with period-style violins (Blankenship and Emma Simmons), viola (Bryce Caster) and cello (Titus Young) as well as a period-style organ and harpsichord (Tung Nguyen), the audience is treated to rich sounds that are not heard often in concert settings.

And the music itself is a delight, especially Baltzar’s John Come Kiss Me Now, a folk-type piece with Blankenship providing a deft touch on violin as she leads the microphilharmonic.

As I noted, microphilharmonic’s annual salute to Baroque music is always one of my favorite concerts of the year. Tonight at 7:30 p.m. is its final performance of this period music at The Shedd for this season, and you’ll be hard pressed to hear anything with more style and grace.

English Baroque with microphilharmonic

When: 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 6

Where: The Shedd Institute, 868 High St., Eugene

Tickets: 541-434-7000 or online at